GEORGIA (WFXG) - Hurricane Michael was historically the first Category 3 hurricane to track into Georgia since 1898. In the CSRA, emergency response teams were ready for its arrival. By the time it made it to our area, Michael was downgraded to a Tropical Storm. However, it still made its debut with steady rainfall and heavy bursts of wind. Richmond County EMA Director, Fire Chief Chris James, said that the county started preparing for the storms arrival since it was originally forecast to hit the Augusta area. Those preparations seemed to pay off, as power outages and storm debris were Chief James and the county’s major concerns.
Both power outages and storm debris are expected when natural disasters come through. For both Richmond and Columbia counties, that is mostly all that was faced. Leaders from both counties say there was less damage than expected. Chief James said, “We didn’t go completely unscathed, but [there were] no major injuries and only a few houses were damaged.” Cassidy Harris with Columbia County said the same rings true for them.
Chief James said that with minimal damage and no injuries, Richmond Counties main concern was restoring power, followed by flooding. However, even standing water in roadways was not as big of an issue as expected. He explained, “We did not receive the type of rain expected, so instead of 3-5 inches, I think we got 2-3 inches.” The early preparations for more rainfall gave the county a leg up, and they were able to monitor flooding as well as debris, and begin cleaning up areas and notifying citizens of areas to avoid when they did make it out. James said, “We are here to use our resources to make our citizens safe.”
Even though there was a lot of debris that did fall into roadways, emergency management services was able to get everything cleaned up quickly, and without calling in debris contractors to do the job. Chief James says that with every storm that comes through, Richmond county learns which areas need to be prepped beforehand and watched during the storm. That helps keep our community members safe, while being more efficient with clean up efforts.
James added, "We want Augusta to be a place where people work, live, and play, and to do that you have to be safe.” He says the county is still assessing the damage from the storm. As we find out more specifics on how our area has been impacted, we will update you.